Broken Hearts and Broken Bones

The radius bone is one of the two large bones of the forearm, the other being the ulna. It extends from the lateral side of the elbow to the thumb side of the wrist and runs parallel to the ulna. The radius is shorter and smaller than the ulna.

The radius is part of two joints: the elbow and the wrist. At the elbow, it joins with the capitulum of the humerus, and in a separate region, with the ulna at the radial notch. At the wrist, the radius forms a joint with the ulna bone.

It’s at that joint with the ulna bone, at the wrist, where my son broke his radius bone this morning while bouncing on an inflatable at a youth group retreat. The hubs brought him home for a quick x-ray, splint, and meds, and then they raced back to camp.

In fairness to you, dear reader, you should know that the majority of the above explanation was copied from the World Wide Web. I am not a nurse. I did memorize all the bones in the body twice in my life – once in tenth-grade biology and once again during cosmetology school. At this point in life, however, I am lucky to remember how old I am, let alone the name of the short bone in the arm that connects the wrist. And frankly, I’m okay with that. I know a little bit about a lot of things and I can be okay without knowing all the things about all the things. I’m certain my brain does a regular dump of information it believes to be no longer useful to me; data that is wasting space. This is why I can remember all the words to every Garth Brooks song but not my driver’s license number. My brain has set my priorities and I’m fine with its system for making space.

A broken bone feels appropriate this month. Not that anyone would ever wish that on their child, but it’s been a heller couple of weeks and so when I say a broken bone feels appropriate, I mean it as, “Of course. Of course, it would happen this month.”

When Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area a little more than two years ago, my city of Kingwood was devastated by flooding. It was in part, due to the enormous amount of rain that came in such a short amount of time. It was in part, due to the ground already being saturated by previous storms with rain. It was in most, due to Lake Conroe being too full from the enormous amount of rain and the “Powers the Be” releasing an enormous amount of water in our direction in the middle of the night with zero warning. A lot of people flooded. People who shouldn’t have flooded because they weren’t in a flood zone. People who have never flooded because they aren’t near the river. People. People I know and love.

We often see flooding on the news and we see the people crying and we see the mud and the buildings destroyed and we think how terrible it all is. But once the news stops covering it, we vaguely remember the pictures of the damaged buildings and we sometimes remember the people crying, but because it’s not happening to us or to people we know and love, our brain doesn’t hold onto that information or try to make sense of the devastation that could really be there. We have to move on to things that are happening to us in our everyday lives because that is what is at hand and that is where we need to focus our time, energy, and brainpower.

It was not until I had experienced Hurricane Harvey, until I saw the devastation with my own two eyes, smelled the hot, wet, mildew with my own nose, tasted the mold in the air, and felt the mud and dust on my skin that I got it. I don’t think there is any way to get flooding on that level; to have your brain open up and wrap around the severity unless you experience it first hand.

We got it when we helped our friends and neighbors cut out their sheetrock and pull everything in their house below water level out to the curb. We got it when we washed sewer water stains off of their grandmother’s china. We got it when we sifted through soggy paperwork in smelly desk drawers to help them find their social security cards and their kids birth certificates and their mom’s hand-written recipe for pie crust.

We prayed and prayed for those who flooded. We held their hands and fed them casseroles. We poured wine and laughed when we could and cried when needed. And we all hoped beyond hope that it would never happen to our community again.

So earlier this year, back in May, when a storm blew in with flash flooding, everyone held their breath. Trees came down and bayous rose. Water ran through the streets and rose into our yards. The rain was coming at record speed and the drains couldn’t keep up. Schools release early, people were told to get off the streets, and then, beyond anyone’s wildest imagination, neighborhoods began to flood. As the water rose, so did the anxiety. Groups texts checking in on friends flew through the digital air as fast as the cell towers could keep up.

Friends who had flooded during Harvey mostly remained dry. This time, a neighborhood recently surrounded by another neighborhood, had water seeping through their cracks and under their door frames. In the name of progress, in the name of making room for everyone, drainage had been shifted and homes were flooded. People were evacuated by boats and everyone in our town felt that sickening lump in our throat again; that wave of nausea knowing what was to come for these friends.

But as communities do, everyone jumped in to help. The water went down, the sheetrock was cut out, the studs were cleaned and dried. Kitchens were rebuilt, but until they were, casseroles were delivered. Advice and help were in plenty by those who have learned so much due to and during Harvey. Lots of friends stepped in to show loved ones how to handle this and how to negotiate that.

As the days and weeks went by through the hot summer, one of the hottest Houston has had in years, homes were rebuilt and lives were restored. Families were moving back into their homes as school started, looking ahead to Thanksgivings filled with enormous gratitude and Christmas’ filled with the humbleness and kindness of being safe and giving back to those in our world suffering from other heartaches.

So when Tropical Storm Imelda began her descent onto our land, the cries came from far and wide, “Dear Jesus, not again!”

The same neighborhood that flooded in May flooded again this week. Several of our schools took a few inches of water again. And new houses flooded; friends who didn’t flood in May or in Harvey were hit by Imelda.

The “experts” say it was one of the heaviest and fastest rainfalls in Houston’s history with over 43 inches in less than 12 hours. That’s a lot of rain. That’s a lot of water. And that’s a lot of heartaches.

My own living room took water and thankfully, my son was home with me to help me attack with fans and towels to keep damage to a minimum. My church has a rescue response team in place since Harvey and fortunately (?) has a lot of the necessary equipment needed to remediate. I have had a dehumidifier running for the last 24-hours and I imagine it will run for a couple more days. The word is still out on what we will be able to salvage.

Some friends weren’t so fortunate. There are people I love dearly who took anywhere from 2-inches to 4-feet of water. If you’ve never experienced this, you may not understand. But even 2-inches means you are ripping out flooring and baseboards and sheetrock. Living in one of the most humid places in the United States means mold and mildew grow faster than you can say mold and mildew. Mold and mildew lead to sicknesses of all kinds but primarily lung diseases. Lung diseases, like I was diagnosed with two weeks ago, that have no cure but only treatments to keep symptoms at bay.

So what is one to do when it feels like broken bones and broken hearts are all there is to see and hear? Lots of people may question why God allows this sort of thing to happen and lots of people have lots of answers; from ones gained through scripture reading and faith to ones only summized from life experience. My answer is a mixture of the two.

It’s unfortunate that we live in a world tainted by sin. One of the most beautiful gifts God gave his creation is the gift of choice. He didn’t want his people to worship him only because they had been created like robots, programmed to do and say what he willed them to do and say. He gifted us with a choice.

And so when Satan entered the perfection of The Garden and offered Adam and Eve a choice, they took it. They broke the ONLY rule God had given them. One rule. That’s all they had was the one rule and they made a choice to break it. So sin entered the world and spread like wildfire and it has touched every single thing. Bad things happen. Suffering happens. Hurting happens.

We walk through this life and experience it in all sorts of ways. Sometimes God reaches down, nudges us out of danger, and we are none the wiser. And sometimes God allows us to walk through the fires and the floods because we will be so much wiser on the other side. Sometimes we will be humbled, more empathetic, made softer, made gentler, made kinder. There are times when the fires and floods work like sandpaper, smoothing our rough edges. And sometimes, and this is the really hard part, we see no use in the situation. We see how no good could ever possibly come from the heartache and brokeness we’ve gone through. It’s in those times when our faith is what keeps us afloat and we trust that God is with us, holding our hand, even when we don’t understand the circumstances around us.

God is a loving Father and his intentions for us are only for good, not harm. His desire for us is to grow in grace as we walk through this life. The broken bones and broken hearts hurt him as much, if not more than they hurt us. But we can have hope in his promises that this world, sinful as it is, is not our final destination. When we believe in him and trust that he is who he says he is, his kingdom is open to us both now and forevermore. And we can trust that there will be a day when we will cry no more tears, suffer no more broken bones, and endure no more heartache.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” -Isaiah 43:2

(To read more about the recent flooding in Kingwood, TX. Click here.)